*Herb Reed, founder of the 1950s vocal group the Platters who sang on hits like “Only You” and “The Great Pretender,” has died at the age of 83.
The last surviving original member of died Monday in a Boston area hospice after a period of declining health that included chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, manager Fred Balboni told the Associated Press.
Reed, a Kansas City, Mo., native, founded the Platters in Los Angeles in 1953. The group started out as a quartet, winning amateur talent shows and performed nights and weekends up and down the California coast while the members worked days at a car wash and at other odd jobs.
Reed came up with the group’s name, inspired by ’50s disc jockeys who called their records platters.
The group underwent several lineup changes, even adding a woman singer to become a quintet, before signing their first major recording contract in 1955.
Herb Reed (far left) with The Platters
Reed sang bass on the group’s four No. 1 hits, including “The Great Pretender,” ”My Prayer,” ”Twilight Time” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.”
The Platters were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998. Their recordings are in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
The group’s popularity reached across racial lines and genres, “achieving success in a crooning, middle-of-the-road style that put a soulful coat of uptown polish on pop-oriented, harmony-rich material,” according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s website.
Reed had homes in Atlanta and Miami but had called the Boston area home since the 1970s “because the people were always so nice to me,” he told a biographer.
Reed was the only member of the group to appear on all of their nearly 400 recordings. He continued touring, performing up to 200 shows per year, until last year, often performing with younger singers under the name Herb Reed and the Platters or Herb Reed’s Platters.
Reed is survived by a son and three grandsons. Funeral arrangements are pending.